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Police probe new Michael Jackson molestation case
Updated: 2004-04-14 14:58

Police are investigating claims by an unidentified man that pop star Michael Jackson molested him in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, authorities said on Tuesday.

The probe comes as Jackson battles charges in central California that he molested a young boy seen in a controversial British television documentary, which was filmed partly at his Neverland Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara County.

"They do have an investigation; that's correct," Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, told Reuters. She declined to comment on specifics of the case, saying that the matter was still in the hands of police detectives.

Police, who confirmed that an investigation was in progress, declined comment on the details of the case.

But Los Angeles attorney Gregory Brenner, who has followed the Jackson case as a commentator, said police sources had told him that the accusations came from an 18-year-old man, who claims he was victimized by Jackson while very young.

Attorney Mark Geragos, who is defending Jackson in the Santa Barbara case, said the latest allegations also are untrue.

"It appears to be nothing more than part of an ongoing campaign to smear Michael with unfounded, scurrilous and ridiculous accusations, and we fully intend to find out who's behind it and take the appropriate actions," Geragos told Reuters.

An LAPD spokesman said in a written statement that the investigation stemmed from a tip by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

"The victim alleges the acts took place in the City of Los Angeles in the late 1980s," LAPD spokesman Jason Lee said. "The Department's Juvenile Division, Child Protection Section, is currently investigating the allegations."

It was not immediately clear if accusations from the 1980s could result in a criminal prosecution in 2004. Gibbons said the statute of limitations on most child molestation cases was eight years, though it could be extended under certain circumstances.

Stan Goldman, a professor of criminal law at Loyola Marymount Law School in Los Angeles, said that if the Los Angeles case was too old to prosecute, the accuser could possibly be called to testify against Jackson in the Santa Barbara case.

Jackson is charged in Santa Barbara with seven counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of plying the boy with alcohol in order to seduce him. He has pleaded innocent and called the charges a "big lie."

Meanwhile a grand jury has been meeting in Santa Barbara to consider an indictment on similar charges against the self-proclaimed "King of Pop."

A Santa Barbara County judge has said that he expects a trial in that matter to begin in December.

In the 1990s Jackson paid an undisclosed amount to the family of a young boy to settle a molestation case out of court.

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